Common Misconceptions By Ken Cameron, K.C. Saddlery The Art of Lead Changes Why do chuck wagon racers do the figure 8 barrels before they hit the track? This causes 12-16 horses on the track to all be in a left lead as they approach the first turn. This will prevent horses running wide, obviously preventing a serious wreck. Why do cutters work a flag? This is to condition their horse to be even in both the left and right leads. Events like working cow horse, to fence a cow, the horse absolutely could not turn if it was in the wrong lead. In cutting, one soon finds out which side your horse is weak on. The cow will double duck your horse to find out what side your horse is short on, so the next move is to run down your weak side.
Next time you watch the warm-up at a cutting, you will see most doing a counter-clockwise long trot or slow lope; most comfortable for the horse.
Studies like what Dr. Pat Harris of Cambridge Veterinary School should take into account is the lead change.
Lungeing Your Horse
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Normally the lunge line is 24-26’ in length. This gives your horse about a 50’ circle. Working your horse in both directions allows conditioning on both leads. Horses are typically left leaded. This is why race tracks are run counterclockwise. Most horse events have in the back of their mind this pre-condition of left leads. This is why they have obstacles that require right leads.
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